Undersized college football talent putting on a big show in 2020
We've come to expect certain things when it comes to various positions in football. Height and weight are some of the first things people talk about when they discuss a player. If they're not a certain height or weight, they're automatically considered not ideal. In college football, undersized players get a chance to prove that stereotypes don't guarantee success, and that the ideal height and weight is a thing of the past.
Jaret Patterson didn't have a single offer outside of Buffalo, yet he remained adamant with his brother James that they be recruited together. At 5'9", he'd be considered too short to play the position, but he's challenging those norms in a big way. Patterson nearly broke the college football record for rushing yards in a game (409 against Kent State) and tied the record for most rushing touchdowns in a game (8). He also broke former Texas running back Ricky Williams' record for rushing yards in a two game stretch (710).
Colorado running back Jarek Broussard, like Patterson continues to shock the country with his performance, including his 301-yard performance against Arizona this past weekend. His production was the second most this season, tied for second with Patterson who also has the record mentioned above. Another 5'9" player who plays bigger than his roster size, Broussard is 24th in the country in rushing yards this year after playing only four games.
At 5'5", Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn had his work cut out for him. Not because he wasn't gifted athletically, but because he had to convince coaches that a player his size could make an impact. Only a freshman, Vaughn's already put up some eye-popping numbers for the Wildcats. He's averaging 17.4 yards per catch and has 1,231 all-purpose yards this season. Teams like Oklahoma and Texas aren't looking forward to seeing him again in the future, and those teams have rosters full of four and five star talent.
Former Houston transfer and current Miami Hurricanes quarterback D'Eriq King was told he was too small to play the position. Houston even kept using him as a wide receiver in 2017 until they couldn't move the ball consistently and let him take over. The next year he accounted for 50 touchdowns, one of three quarterbacks to do so including fellow undersized quarterback Kyler Murray. King's now leading a Miami team that's sustained only one loss, and is putting up one of his best seasons as a passer (20 touchdowns to just four interceptions). He's not the first quarterback to be deemed to small for the position, and he certainly won't be the last. It's never about the size of the player, but the size of the fight in the player.
Coastal Carolina and BYU put on a show this weekend, giving us one of the games of the year. The Chanticleers featured a number of players that didn't have a ton of offers, but they were also facing a BYU team that had talent much bigger at various positions. Coastal Carolina's center Sam Thompson entered Saturday as an underdog unaffected by the numbers associated with his frame. Facing one of the best defensive tackles in the country in Khyiris Tonga was just another matchup to him, and he thrived all game. Thompson knows that he'll never dominate with his size, so he dominates with leverage. Tonga made some plays, but Thompson held him largely ineffective for most of the game by getting low. It was an inspiring performance, and a reminder that players need to believe in themselves even if others don't.
College football is full of players that don't fit a certain mold, but that doesn't mean they can't succeed. There are so many examples of players who aren't the "right" size that are breaking those norms and putting on a show. Louisville's Javian Hawkins (5'9"), Ole Miss' Jerrion Ealy (5'9"), and Fresno State's Ronnie Rivers all run the ball hard and can handle work in the trenches. Purdue's Rondale Moore (5'9"), Louisville's Tutu Atwell (5'8"), and Ole Miss' Elijah Moore (5'9") are nightmares to cover downfield. The list goes on and on. Times are changing, and the little guys are proving that they can make just as much of an impact or more as the guys who have the desired frames. You just have to give them a chance.